Oil & Gas
Eyge Environmental Education Center, our partner in Yakutia (also known as the Republic of Sakha), has been protesting the Siberia-Pacific Pipeline since the project's inception. When Transneft announced that it would protect Lake Baikal by shifting the pipeline 400 km away from the lake, it was considered a huge victory. However, that landed a rushed redesign of the project in the backyards of communities in Yakutia, threatening oil spills, disrupted traditional subsistence practices, and other potentially negative consequences.
The construction of the pipeline through Sakha began in 2006, and there have been numerous violations reported since then. Large tracts of forest were bulldozed without the required permits. The pipeline also crosses several important rivers, including the Lena - the 10th longest river in the world at 2,800 miles in length. Initially, Transneft proposed to use a micro-tunneling method, considered environmentally safer and less damaging to the riverbed. However, the company unilaterally decided to use an open-cut river crossing, setting the pipeline in a trench at the bottom of the river, leaving it vulnerable to drifting ice blocks and erosion. Local communities formally complained to Transneft that that it would be impossible to quickly stop pumping oil through the pipeline in the event of a spill.
Since the pipeline's launch in 2010, Eyge documented two oil spills in just the first few months of operation. They report that the first spill contaminated at least 2,000 square meters of land, some of it leaking into a nearby creek. Both spills were the result of improper and sometimes illegal actions by VostokNefteProvod, Transneft's subcontractor and the company operating the pipeline. In the first incident, the company was fined for damages and forced to conduct environmental rehabilitation works. More worrying, however, is the prospect of a spill at the pipeline's crossing of the Lena River, which provides drinking water to many Yakutsk residents.